Gary Sinise says band will offer something new at Rockin’ for the Troops at Cantigny
By Annie Alleman For The Sun July 18, 2012 11:06AM
For a good cause: Gary Sinise (right) and the Lt. Dan Band will perform as part of the Rockin' for the Troops fundraiser July 21 in Wheaton. | FILE PHOTO
If you go
What: ‘Rockin’ for the Troops’
When: July 21. Gates open at noon
Where: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
How much: $25
Information: 630-668-5161 and www.Rockinforthetroops.org
Updated: August 21, 2012 6:19AM
While most TV stars spend their summer breaks filming movies or relaxing, Gary Sinise tours the country performing benefit concerts.
The star of “CSI: New York,” Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band is headlining the seventh annual Rockin’ for the Troops concert, set for Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Tickets cost $25; parking costs $10. Proceeds from the show benefit the programs of Operation Support Our Troops America. The gates open at noon; the beer garden opens at 3 p.m.
Last year’s show was at capacity.
“I think we’ll have another great crowd; we always do,” Sinise said. “It’s a good cause. Every year I see a lot of the same people. The band is good; we’ve got some great new material. We’re a cover band, and always learn different things each year. The folks that have seen us before are going to have a great time, and those that have never seen us before are going to have a real surprise. They’re going to enjoy themselves.”
He promised a “good, long show” with a “great variety of tunes.” Even if you’re in the last row, there will be big screens that will display all of the action.
“We’ve got about 70 songs we can play, and we mix it up all the time,” he said. “I do the set list, and I like to mix it up and be creative about how I design the show and set the tone. The energy of the show is very important. I don’t want people to just sit there and listen to us play cover tunes, I want them to be actively involved with the show.”
Sinise, a Blue Island native, has won an Emmy, a Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “Forrest Gump.”
It’s his character of Lt. Dan Taylor that the band is named after. He plays the bass guitar and sings.
Rockin’ For the Troops is a day-long music fest, with performances by Motown group The Voices, 7th Heaven, Big John Howell and Amy Jacobson with The Born to Boogie Band, and singer Isabela Nanni.
Sinise and his band have been a staple at the event since its inception. The group plays an average of 30 to 40 shows per year with most of them supporting the USO or other veteran’s charities.
His show caters to both the older, career military personnel and the fresh-faced enlistees.
“I’ve played so many concerts, and taken the band to so many places around the world, that we have a very solid reputation within the military,” he said. “This is a variety show and it’s here for a purpose. It is part of my mission to show support and appreciation and gratitude to the men and women who serve our country and the veterans who have come before them, so this show is designed for them and to give back to them and their families.”
He gets a lot of personal and spiritual satisfaction from his work, he said.
“Just knowing there’s something I can do beyond making a living … the give-back is part of my life,” he said. “This is a way I found I can make a difference and contribute. I’ve seen that it does have a positive effect. It would be very hard to pull the plug on it. (I try) to inspire other people to dig in and do something for somebody.”
He reports back to the set of “CSI: New York” on Monday.
“This is when things get busy, when I’m shooting my show during the week and traveling during the weekends,” he said. “It’s very busy all the way to the end of the year.”
Mitch Paliga, a jazz instructor at North Central College in Naperville, plays saxophone with the Lt. Dan Band and has traveled the world with the band. They’re fun shows, he said.
“It’s a great band,” he said. “It’s entertaining. Gary moves things very, very fast. It’s a lot of fun to see people be entertained and have a good time. When we were in Kuwait in January, you could really feel the energy. They were really glad we were there.”